Red Hook, Sunset Park, parts of Carroll Gardens, Bay Ridge and Park Slope
Occupation: Tenant Organizer, Neighbors Helping Neighbors
Education: CUNY Kingsborough, A.A.
Candidate Website: https://marcelaforny.org/
Marcela Mitaynes is a community organizer and has been a resident of Sunset Park since immigrating from Peru as a child. She became an activist through her work with tenants’ rights organization, Neighbors Helping Neighbors. She worked with New York lawmakers to pass the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019, and housing has been a major focus of her campaign. Besides housing, her priorities include equitable tax policies, healthcare, immigration, climate change, and good governance. Citizens Union was impressed by Mitaynes’ commitment to reform issues, such as same day voter registration, nonpartisan redistricting, and vote by mail access for all New Yorkers, as well as her dedication to the district.
Occupation: New York State Assembly Member
Education: Boricua College, B.S.
Candidate Website: https://www.felixortiz2020.com/
Felix Ortiz has served as the State Assembly Member for District 51 since 1994. He served as Chair of the Cities, Mental Health, Alcohol and Substance Abuse, and Veterans Affairs Committees, and in 2015 he was named Assistant Speaker of the Assembly – the first Hispanic legislator to hold that title. In 2017, he unsuccessfully ran for City Council in the same area. Ortiz prioritizes issues of housing, transit, gun violence, environmental sustainability, and LGBTQ+ rights. He emphasizes his work with the community in helping to pass bills that promote healthy diets in school lunches, obesity education, and eating disorder awareness. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he instituted a number of policies that have been instrumental in ensuring his district has access to social services, reliable information, and equitable treatment. Ortiz supports Citizens Union’s reform agenda and stresses his commitment to voting reform, specifically with his proposed legislation to allow New Yorkers to vote anywhere in the state. Citizens Union is impressed by his years of service to his community and track record of advocacy, but issues no preference in this race because of campaign finance misconduct in his campaign account. Ortiz was not personally involved and has made it clear that he was shocked and disappointed to learn about what happened and took steps to prevent future occurrences, but Citizens Union believes representatives must prioritize the ethical manner of their public offices to maintain the public trust.
Occupation: Urban Planner, CDP
Education: UC Santa Cruz, B.A.; Tufts University, M.A.
Candidate Website: https://www.katherineforassembly.com/
Katherine Walsh is an urban planner working on environmental and sustainability issues. She currently works at CDP, a global environmental consulting group, where she oversees the company’s engagement with cities, states, and regions in North America. She has worked for a number of governmental and nonprofit organizations, including the World Affairs Council of
Northern California and Philadelphia’s Mayor’s Office. Walsh has prioritized the environment in her career and campaign, saying publicly that if elected, she will implement a green transition as part of her recovery plan for COVID-19. She is the co-chapter leader of the NYC branch of Women Investing in a Sustainable Economy. She has never held public office, but currently serves as the Chair of the Democratic County Committee in the district, is fluent in Chinese, and is a former Fulbright Scholar. Her legislative priorities include climate change, housing, immigration, education, healthcare, and transportation. Citizens Union commends her strong stance on executive powers in the state legislature, her focus on voter engagement and education, and her support of campaign finance transparency.
The candidate did not respond to Citizens Union’s questionnaire.